Martina McBride, Blake Shelton + More Wine Down for Charity
The stars came out to eat and drink in Nashville this week, all in the name of charity. Martina McBride, Blake Shelton, Jewel, Luke Bryan, Danny Gokey, Kellie Pickler, Jamey Johnson, Sarah Buxton, Phil Vassar, Big Kenny and Whitney Duncan were among the famous faces attending the 11th Annual T.J. Martell Foundation's Eco-Energy Best Cellars Dinner, which raised $416,000 for cancer research at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
The night pairs Best Sellers (country music's top selling artists) with Best Cellars (Nashville's top wine collectors). Among the night's highlights were, besides the adult grape juice, a gourmet meal and a live auction conducted by Big Kenny that included a trip to France and three trips to California wine country.
"It's a great event," Martina tells The Boot. "It's a time where we can hang out with our peers and people in the business and drink amazing wine that we'd never get the opportunity to drink and raise money for T.J. Martell. So, it's just a win-win."
Martina loves a good glass of wine and actually has a cellar in her house. In fact, she and her family took a trip to Italy a couple of years ago to educate themselves in the wine making process.
Blake must have started early, since he arrived at the high-end shindig with his own red Solo Cup. "This fundraiser was something that I came to in 2002," recalls the 'Hillbilly Bone' singer. "And I tell you what, I don't drink wine to begin with, and that might be why -- because of that night. That was the very first time I was around Tracy Lawrence, and at the time, they had us seated together ... and I remember ending up down around Printer's Alley. It was just one of those crazy nights. And you almost feel guilty about it because this is a fundraiser and it's for a great cause ... but man, I was afraid to come back after that first year. So, here I am eight years later finally got over that hangover of that night and thought I'd try again!"
The newly-named ACM Top New Artist, Luke Bryan, is still in a celebratory mood. "Coming back from Vegas and I went to Talladega [this past weekend] and now this! At some point, me and the old liver are going to have to get together and chill out for a second," Luke jokes. "We've been having a good time. You never want to come down from the clouds after something like last weekend."
Luke brought his pregnant wife, Caroline, to the event, who may have felt a little left out. "She's pretty ill about the whole not being able to partake of the wine deal ... She loves wine!" explains Luke. "But obviously with the baby on the way, that won't be happening. She's pretty jealous of me right now."
Charity is something that touches Danny's heart in a big way, having his own foundation, Sophia's Heart, named after his late wife. "I always want my career to influence positively. I want it to do more than just make a musical impact, but I want to make a personal impact with people," Danny tells The Boot. "And this is one of the ways you do it. Cancer, Leukemia and AIDS, they all have an impact on the human race, and it's not a positive effect at all."
In the lightness of the evening, though, having fun combined with raising money was something Danny could definitely enjoy. "It's not hard to get anyone to eat a nice dinner and to drink nice wine. So, is it work? Not really. But is it helping move things in a positive way? It is. And sometimes we just get spoiled like this."